Review: Matthew E. White’s ‘K Bay’ Comes Up With a Reliable Return

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Matthew E. White | K Bay | Domino
Three out of Five Stars

Being an accredited member of the so-called indie underground hasn’t prevented Matthew E. White from accruing the critical kudos he so decidedly deserves. While his solo releases have been limited — K Bay is only his third individual offering and his first in six years — his collaborations have elevated him to a relatively prominent plateau, positioning that brings a reliable reputation. 

Consequently, the fact that he’s opting to step out on his own after such a long layoff ensures a certain amount of anticipation and the hope that it will live up to expectations. For the most part, it does, but given the fact that for some this will amount to an initial introduction, it also offers a broad glimpse into White’s musical MO.

The opening track “Genuine Hesitation” commences with a kind of cosmic blur but quickly gels into a rollicking and robust straight ahead rocker not unlike a hybrid of Gary Numan and Flock of Seagulls in the full flush of a late ‘70s, early ‘80s New Wave revival. It also finds White to be a bit of an eccentric, one whose inspiration is derived from eclectic origins. The semi-hip-hop rhythms that drive the follow-up, “Electric,” also indicates as much, given the freewheeling frenzy that powers it from within. 

That penchant for unpredictability is manifest throughout, even though the abrupt changes in tempo ensure that the accessibility factor also remains intact. There are several cosmic touches, particularly in the set-up to some of the songs, but mostly White adheres to a perky pop motif, with offerings such as “Take Your Time (And Find That Orange To Squeeze),” “Shine a Light for Me,” “Let’s Ball,” and “Hedged in Darkness” coming across as both agreeable and engaging. For all of his disparity, he still holds to some basic pop precepts and a style and stance that find him staying within the realms of a giddy musical motif. There’s little not to like, and those that appreciate abject originality plied from a generally left-of-center persona ought to find K Bay a mostly pleasing proposition.

Matthew E. White’s K Bay drops September 10, 2021.

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